Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Way It Is: Is it normal to be this crazy?

Column for 4/28/11.

Is it normal to be this crazy?

We probably resembled a herd of cattle being driven across the vast Great Plains.
I had warned my other half that a few extra deep breaths may be required to get through this particular day, but after four years of living with me, he already knew my family was crazy.
Packed in the car like sardines, we travelled a little over an hour to the predetermined family picnic site for Easter.
All 10 of my closest family members, luckily we left the six dogs at home, descended upon Reiman Gardens. Lugging the bag of fried chicken and pizza — we have a few picky eaters — through the welcome center and to a few picnic tables, the feast began.
The other poor souls visiting the gardens that day were out a place to eat, my family had taken over and was not ashamed to do so.
My family is crazy.
When all the bones were picked clean and nothing was left of the pizza but a few pieces of uneaten crust, it was time for the tour.
Beginning in the butterfly sanctuary, the aunt and cousin were up-to-date on all the rules that went along with visiting the fluttery creatures. Conveying those rules was where things got a little sketchy.
The most important rule of removing coats and jackets began to circulate through our group, which appeared a little preoccupied at all there was to see at this particular location.
After three or four trips to the coat rack, our herd packed the entry area of the butterfly house. As the frail older woman began a verbal rundown of the rest of the rules — and there sure are a lot to see a bunch of butterflies — I caught the criminal of our family red-handed.
"Dad! You were supposed to take your coat off," I scolded.
Mom rolled her eyes and made an attempt to find a new walking partner, dad scrambled to hide the fact he had missed out on the golden rule.
It was too late to exit the sealed entryway and hang his fleece jacket on the hook. So he did what any man would do and began quickly, and ever so stealthily, zipping every pocket closed and zipping up the jacket until his neck disappeared.
My family is crazy.
We entered the butterfly house and somehow, not a single butterfly managed to escape.
As we all began to find a place to take it all in, I began to hear whistling.
What butterfly whistles, I thought to myself.
Then I found it. My kid brother, who is in all reality an adult now, decided that if held the palm of his hand out and whistled, maybe a butterfly would land on it.
My family is crazy.
After leaving the butterflies, we'd probably done enough damage, we headed to tour the acres upon acres of the garden.
Grandpa quickly wondered to examine the gazebo structures. Mom was observed nose deep in blooms and the rest of us kept watch that Grandma didn't stray too far away.
"Get out of the fountain, you're going to get us kicked out," I hollered at the kid brother.
Our tour guide, my cousin with the map, gave up all hope of keeping the group organized as my parents found it fun to argue about Magnolia varieties.

I can only help but wonder, is it normal to be this crazy?

–Megan Tilk is a reporter and weekly columnist for the Mary­ville Daily Forum. She can be reached at or follow her columns at

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